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The Latest: a Refuge wildfire grows near Georgia-Florida line

  • A Florida Division of Forestry helicopter drops in a bucket of water on a wildfire Tuesday, 11 April 2017, in Hudson, Florida. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency as more than 100 fires active fire. (AP Photo/Chris O’meara)

    (Associated Press)

  • A Florida Division of Forestry helicopter drops in a bucket of water on a wildfire Tuesday, 11 April 2017, in Hudson, Florida. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency as more than 100 fires active fire. (AP Photo/Chris O’meara)

    (Associated Press)

  • A Florida Division of Forestry helicopter drops in a bucket of water on a wildfire Tuesday, 11 April 2017, in Hudson, Florida. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency as more than 100 fires active fire. (AP Photo/Chris O’meara)

    (Associated Press)

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TAMPA, Florida. – The Latest news about the forest fires in Florida (all times are local):

3:30 pm

The authorities say that a wildfire sparked by lightning in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has continued to spread, to burn by means of more than 9 square miles (23 square km) of swamp and forest near the Georgia-Florida state line.

Susan Heisey, a supervisory ranger for the south Georgia resort, said Tuesday that more firefighters will be added to a team of more than 100 trying to contain the blaze to the public land.

Heisey said the fire started in the southern part of the Okefenokee refuge huge 407,000 hectares (16,400 acres). She said: it is now being distributed in the neighboring Osceola National Forest and John M. Bethea State Forest in Florida.

Heisey said the fire is advancing from the west, away from the local communities. All campsites and trails in the Okefenokee refuge will remain open for visitors.

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10:30 pm

Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency because the number of fires burning around Florida.

Scott issued the order Tuesday morning.

Officials say forest fires in Florida have already burned 250 percent more ground in the first three months of 2017 than during the same period last year. There are more than 100 fires active in more than 20,000 acres (8,000 hectares) in Florida.

Agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam says the state has not seen this active of a wildfire season since 2011.

Declare a state of emergency allows Scott to deploy and use of firefighting forces and resources that are needed and to assist in the distribution of goods and materials.

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6:33 pm

The Florida Forest Service, said more than 100 active fires burning across the country right now.

The Tampa Bay Times http://bit.ly/2o18HLf) reports 25 of them are scorching more than 100 acres each.

Since February, forest fires have swept over 68,000 acres of the state. That amount is higher than the average acreage burnt in the last five years.

The largest blaze is now known as the Cowbell Brand in the Big Cypress National Preserve, which has spread to more than 8,000 acres about a mile north of Interstate 75.

Hernando County brush fire apparently sparked by lightning on Saturday had been widened to 1,100 acres Monday.

The dry conditions mark a sharp contrast to 2016, when the state was soaked by two hurricanes.

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Information: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), http://www.tampabay.com.

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